Carroll County Reducing Electric Bill 20 Percent Through Solar Projects

A September 17, 2015, Baltimore Sun article reported that Carroll County is seeking to cut its electricity costs by 20 percent by placing solar arrays at three locations in the county.  The arrays will consume a total of 37 acres and produce enough energy to power the equivalent of 1,640 households annually. From the article:

The Board of Commissioners voted to enter into agreements with a private-sector collaborative to construct solar arrays at Hoods Mill Landfill, Hampstead’s wastewater treatment plant and Carroll Community College. The county expects to save about $590,000 annually because of this diversification of its energy portfolio. Carroll currently pays about $2.9 million for its electrical costs through Baltimore Gas and Electric [(BGE)]. …

“I don’t think we’ve ever done a deal as good as this,” said Daniel Wallace, director of renewable energy systems for Bith Energy, one of three businesses involved in the collaborative. “It’s the perfect storm. They have the land, they have an aggressive [Public Works Deputy Director Scott Moser], and if he didn’t look at these sites the way he did, we wouldn’t have them and we wouldn’t be able to get the price as low as we did.” …

The agreements have a fixed rate of 7.7 cents per kilowatt hour over a 20-year period, more than 3 cents less per kilowatt hour than BGE’s current rate. The total cost to the county for its annual output from these sources will be about $1.39 million a year, resulting in savings of about $590,000 annually. The total estimated savings over the 20 years is projected to be about $29.5 million. …

Once the 20-year agreement expires, the county will have three options: The commissioners can either opt to have the collaborative remove the panels at no cost; the county could purchase the solar arrays; or a new agreement could be negotiated.

The article noted that the favorable county rate was in part generated by the collective absorbing the $17.5 million capital costs and the availability of a 30 percent federal tax credit. The article also provided further details on the site selection process.

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